After my daughter died, my reality capsized. I now look at life through a dark set of glasses. Itís not rosy. Itís not happy. Itís not balanced. When you start each morning with the first thought being about the beautiful child you lost, you shift into negative. It isnít a Ďwoe is meí thought, it isnít a forced though, it isnít a choice; it is simply the way a parent thinks after the trauma of losing a child. Your perception of the world has changed. The reality of Ďyes, it can happen to youí makes life much more real and much sadder. It was easier before when I thought statistics meant something and when I thought my life and my children and my husband were all safe together. I donít see that now. There is droning background music playing all the time; it is a song of sadness, pain, longing, guilt and despair that plays over and over again in the back of your mind shadowing every thought, every word, every gesture. Your old reality is smothered by this new reality and its haunting tune. I see events and circumstances from the half empty point of view. I am less open-minded, less knowledgeable, and less socially adept.
With this sullied view on life, I find myself feeling less and less like I fit in to the mainstream world. Even among my friends and family, who continue to show utmost compassion and encouragement, I am estranged. I canít talk about my kids like I did before. I canít engage in conversations about fourth graders because my daughter never made it to fourth grade. I canít talk about medicine and doctors without a tarnished view given that my daughter died under their care. Iím unable to discuss current affairs without a negative outlook for our countryís future. When Iím asked the simple question of ďhow are youĒ I want to scream and yell and tell the person asking that I feel like garbage and never want to wake up again and face another day without her. We dearly need our friends and family and their unending efforts to support us; our grieving would be absolutely impossible without them. I love them all from the bottom of my heart for being there. But there comes a different kind of solace from someone whoís experienced the same terrible fate.
We will always live in the mainstream world so we must find opportunities to express our true feelings, our inner most emotions, while feeling like weíre in a position of safety, otherwise we will perish. It is crucial to our survival that we find like-minded people who understand exactly how we feel, whose compassion comes from the core of their own knowledge; other bereaved parents.
Bereaved parents are the only people who can possibly fathom the pain and sadness of other bereaved parents. Those who have lost a child know what itís like and are wholly able to comprehend the despair of another grieving parent. We are a community that exists and survives in the knowledge that we are not alone. It is a powerful reminder of how important it is to reach out and try to help another; to offer a shoulder to cry on, to listen to the stories of each othersí children, to cry openly, to be vulnerable. It is also an opportunity to find strength and hope.
When you are ready, find other bereaved parents. Talk to them, share with them and cry with them. It will bring you a little bit closer to feeling like you fit in somewhere. Might not be the group you want to fit in with; itís a group no one wants to belong to, but it is welcoming and comforting to be there together. It will strengthen your new reality and help you move around the everyday world without feeling so alone.
Visit The Compassionate Friends and find a local chapter closest to you at:
The Compassionate Friends
A website has been established in our daughter's name. Please click here for more information about our mission.
FriendsofAine.com - Aine Marie Phillips